Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (13610)

Here it is - the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet that Kasey Kahne will drive for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kahne designed the paint scheme himself.

“I hope you guys like my 2012 Farmers paint scheme,” Kahne said. “It was cool to be a part of the process, and I appreciate Farmers letting me have some input on the car design.”

“The new design is a winner,” said Paul Patsis, president of Enterprise Marketing for Farmers Insurance.  “We are so pleased Kasey took such an active role in the redesign, and we think it represents our partnership well: it’s dynamic, it’s fresh and full of energy.”

Hendrick Motorsports PR

If Carl Edwards’ song selection for driver introductions before Saturday’s IRWIN Tools Night Race is any indication, he is feeling rather optimistic about his chances for a third Sprint Cup win at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards will walk out to “Run This Town” by Jay Z, obviously thinking he has a good chance to leave Bristol with another victory.

Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson seems to be issuing a warning with his choice of Jim Croce’s “Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, while teammate Jeff Gordon, a five-time winner at BMS, is going with Nelly’s “E.I.”, in which Gordon is mentioned. Mark Martin’s choice is “La Grange” by ZZ Top and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is keeping his music under wraps until he walks down the ramp.

Kevin Harvick, who won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at BMS Wednesday night, and feels like he will contend on Saturday, will be introduced to “Show Me What You Got”, by Jay-Z. Clint Bowyer is going country with “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”, by Waylon Jennings and Jeff Burton is splitting his song between Dolly Parton’s “Coal Keeps The Lights On” and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘n’ Roses.  “Gypsy Road” by Cinderella is Paul Menard’s selection.

Defending IRWIN Tools Night Race winner Kyle Busch’s entrance song is “Rowdy Busch” featuring Raytona500 and Denny Hamlin is going with “Bad Meets Evil” by Fast Lane. Joey Logano is showing his love for all sports by making his walk to the ESPN theme song.

For Matt Kenseth, he’s hoping he’ll be “Indestructible”, as he strolls in to the Disturbed tune with teammate Greg Biffle opting for the theme song from the classic television comedy, “Sanford and Son.”  “I’m From The Country”, by Tracy Byrd will signal David Ragan’s entrance.

Tony Stewart is changing things up with Derek Miller’s “Throw the Hammer Down,” while Ryan Newman wants Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” played as he enters the track. Kasey Kahne wants the crowd to hear “Made In America” by Toby Keith when he walks into the stadium.

Kurt Busch’s selection is sure to draw some laughs as he would like to hear “I Like Big Butts” by Sir Mix A Lot as he is introduced. David Reutimann is going with “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” by The Offspring and J.J. Yeley’s choice is LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy And I Know It.”

Bristol Motor Speedway PR

With Kyle Busch’s win at Michigan International Speedway last weekend, one of the 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spots has been gobbled up. Following this weekend’s event in Tennessee, there will only be one race before “The Road to Richmond” culminates at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 10 with the Wonderful Pistachios 400—“One Last Race to Make The Chase.”

Brad Keselowski (two wins) and Denny Hamlin (one win) have a hold on the two “Wild Card” spots, heading into the weekend. But a victory for Paul Menard or David Ragan would knock Hamlin out of the “Wild Card” spot; moreover, a win by Marcos Ambrose or Regan Smith could also potentially do the job. Each of those drivers has one win on the season.

Drivers who have fared well recently on the speedways and road courses over the summer are in for a new challenge at Saturday night’s short track. Here are some Chase contenders to watch this weekend.

Greg Biffle Currently 13th in points with no wins this season, Biffle would take over Hamlin’s spot with a win. Fortunately for Biffle, he has the second-best driver rating (99.4) at Bristol. A “Wild Card” may be the only way for Biffle to get in, as he is 58 points out of 10th (the top 10 in points are guaranteed in The Chase).

Denny Hamlin As mentioned, Hamlin has the final “Wild Card” spot…for now. Since he has one win and there are several other drivers with one win in or near the top 20, he’s certainly “on the bubble.” Additionally, Biffle and Clint Bowyer have more points than Hamlin, so a win by either of them would propel them ahead of Hamlin. The Chesterfield, VA native has the 13th-best driver rating at Bristol but finished 33rd there earlier this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. He seems to be in the discussion every week, but the reality is Earnhardt Jr. keeps staying on the bubble week after week. He is 9th in points (30 ahead of 11th-place Biffle) and has zero wins. Earnhardt Jr.’s 87.9 driver rating is 12th-best, and he finished 11th earlier this season.

Expect these drivers to be in the thick of the Wild Card hunt as “The Road to Richmond” ends at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 10 for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 “One Last Race to Make The Chase.” Once the checkered flag flies, the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only those in the top 10 and two Wild Card drivers will be eligible for the championship over the final 10 races of the season. Fans will want to find their seats by 6:15 p.m. for the beginning of our patriotic pre-race show.


I’m not great with numbers, but I know enough to know that only a fraction of the people on the planet have experienced the feeling of being the very best at what they do.

For those of us who have lived our lives in the mediocre-to-slightly-above-average demographic, this is inconceivable. How does it really feel, even for a single day, to be the richest, the smartest, the prettiest, the funniest or, for our purposes here, the fastest? We can only imagine.
But on the flip side, once you have experienced the ultimate thrill and reached the highest summit, how does it feel to lose it?
The answer, if you were paying close attention to Tony Stewart’s post-race comments at Michigan International Speedway on August 21, is … not good. Very bad, in fact.
Stewart, who hasn’t won a race this season but still has managed to hang on to a spot in the Top 10, basically remarked that if he is unable to truly compete for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, he would rather not be in the position of simply taking up space.
"It really doesn't matter whether we make the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) or not because we are going to be occupying a spot … that somebody else that actually can run for a championship is going to be trying to take because our stuff is so bad right now,” the Stewart Haas Racing driver-owner said.
As a fan, I always appreciate seeing a combination of fierce competitiveness and good sportsmanship. But as an admirer and supporter of Stewart, this remark made me a little uneasy. It sounded like that familiar groaning sound you make when you can’t finish a crossword puzzle or get the lawn mower to crank. You know you have the tools, but you just can’t quite make them work properly. It’s frustrating.
NASCAR drivers threw out the old “It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game that counts” adage a long time ago. Anything less than victory is unacceptable. NASCAR poured fuel on that fire by adding a Wild Card component to the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualification system. A single win can mean the difference between championship contention and the dismal phrase, “Great try.”
Stewart, of course, is a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and generally considered one of the most gifted drivers in the world. In charmingly self-deprecating speeches at the annual awards ceremony, he has reminded us that he is “the last guy not named Jimmie Johnson” to win the trophy. It was honest, gracious and amusing for a year or two, but as three, four and then five seasons went by, he kissed that line goodbye. It had become resoundingly un-funny.
The youth development organization 4-H boils its recipe for success in life down to four essential ingredients: health, hands, head and heart.
It sounds as if Stewart, and all the other NASCAR starts who are “not named Jimmie Johnson,” may have spent some time in 4-H. They are certainly mindful of their physical health, working with personal trainers and nutritionists to hone the special skills necessary to excel behind the wheel of a stock car, like stamina and hand-eye coordination.
Racers are hands-on people. The days when drivers actually crawled under the hood to work on their own cars may be long gone, but make no mistake; they have their hands on every part of the operation and are willing to provide whatever is necessary to better their on-track performance. Hard work and diligence are critical components in creating a successful race team.
The head includes the mouth, and speaks for itself. Athletes call this “mental toughness,” the ability to focus and act on the things you can control rather than dwelling on the ones you cannot. How many times have we seen this in action during a race, when a driver is so focused on retaliation for slights real or imagined that he loses sight of the ultimate goal? When you develop the ability to consistently keep your head, then your body – and your car – will go right along with it.
If anyone decided to pen a hit NASCAR rap song, it would probably include the lyrics, “If you can believe, you can achieve.” Perhaps the most important player in this quartet of success is the will to win, the passion for what you do. The state of mind necessary to see a task through to its conclusion, no matter what obstacles you encounter along the way, is something drivers often refer to as “focus.” You could also call it heart.
Just because you aren’t wearing a shiny belt or a sparkly crown or hoisting a cool NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy at the moment doesn’t mean you aren’t a champion. At Bristol and Atlanta and Richmond and every other race this season, I fully expect Stewart and any other drivers feeling frustrated and disappointed to buckle up, face up and step up. They are the best at what they do, and they will remember who they are.
Iconic football coach Vince Lombardi went through professional cold spells – one might call them frozen tundra spells -- more than once, and had this to say about it: “I have been wounded but not yet slain. I shall lie here and bleed a while; then I shall rise and fight again. The title of champion may from time to time fall to others more than ourselves. But the heart, the spirit and the soul of champions remains in Green Bay.”
Anybody remember how the Green Bay Packers fared last year?

I’ll bet Tony Stewart can tell you.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Brian Vickers visited the Georgia Aquarium on Thursday to promote the upcoming AdvoCare 500 night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sept. 4. While at the aquarium, Vickers, who is a certified diver, dove with the aquarium’s Whale Sharks, Groupers and other aquatic life.

“I’m here a little bit early for the Labor Day weekend, but it was a great opportunity to experience the Georgia Aquarium,” said Vickers. “I had no idea something like this existed in downtown Atlanta -- the largest aquarium in the world. A lot of incredible species of fish here and sharks, but most importantly here to promote the Atlanta Labor Day weekend race. Three races. Incredible ticket prices. Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing and there’s always good racing at Atlanta, so we’re all looking forward to that. What the fans will most be interested in is the $39 tickets that are being sold and the $19 student tickets and always free parking.”

Vickers noted that while he enjoyed the dive and quenching his thirst for off-the-track excitement, he is very excited for the AdvoCare 500

“It’s a fun visit to be here at the Georgia Aquarium,” said Vickers. “Good experience to be here at the Georgia Aquarium, but most importantly I’m excited about coming back next weekend for the Labor Day race at Atlanta. It’s one of my favorite race tracks and I think it’s one of the best races we have on the circuit. Incredible surface -- the pavement surface is old, wore out, slick and very fast and it makes us really have to drive the cars from the top all the way down to the bottom.

“I love coming to Atlanta at night and just being in night races. There’s just something about the sparks flying in the lights and everything that make night racing good in my opinion.”

Known for his daredevil-like hobbies, shark diving was something that had not been previously thought of. Unaware that such a large aquarium existed in the middle of downtown Atlanta, it was an opportunity that he couldn’t refuse.

“It’s interesting,” said Vickers. “Diving with whale sharks in downtown Atlanta was not on the list, but when presented with the opportunity it quickly become top of the list. Not only is this one of my favorite race tracks to race at, but having an opportunity to come here and swim in a tank like this with these kind of fish, with whale sharks and many other sharks along with a lot of other fish, species of fish, it’s something that quickly moved up the list. So you never know what’s next.”

In his career at AMS, Vickers has recorded one top-five and seven top-ten finishes, finishing in the top-ten in 50 percent of his starts at the 1.54-mile speedway.

Atlanta Motor Speedway PR

Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) will team up with the NASCAR Hall of Fame at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) to celebrate Richie Evans’ upcoming induction as part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Dave Blaney will pilot the No. 36 Golden Corral/HOF/Richie Evans Chevrolet for the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, September 25th. TBR Development Driver Bobby Santos will drive a Richie Evans tribute No. 4 Mystic Missile Dodge for the New Hampshire 100 Whelen Modified Tour race on Saturday, September 24th.

Evans, who isrecognized as the "king" of modified racing, captured nine NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships in a 13-year span, which included eight consecutive championships from 1978-85. "The Rapid Roman" collected multiple track championships across the Northeast and hundreds of victories, including a 37-win season during a stretch of 60 modified races in 1979.  Evans was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

Golden Corral and TBR will pay tribute to Evans by running an orange and light blue paint scheme modeled after the last modified Evans drove. Santos and the Mystic Missile Team will run a similar-themed modified on Saturday.

“Obviously one of my heroes growing up, beside my dad, was Richie,” explained TBR owner and past modified crew chief Tommy Baldwin. “Whenever we showed up to a racetrack, we knew that Richie was the guy to beat. I am honored and humbled to be involved with his well-deserved induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I’m excited our team can once again run a paint scheme like Richie’s; it brings back great memories.”

Richie Evans will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 20, 2012. Tickets start at $40 and go on sale in September for the historic event. The Induction Ceremony is part of the recently announced NASCAR Acceleration Weekend, which also includes the NASCAR Preview 2012 fan event on Jan. 21.  For details visit and

Tommy Baldwin Racing PR

Once again Roush Fenway Racing rolls into “Thunder Valley” for one of the most anticipated weekends of the NASCAR season; Bristol under the lights.  Bristol is one of the most intense tracks on the circuit; having been described by some drivers as the equivalent of ‘jet fighters, racing around a football stadium.’  Throw in a hot summer night and a heated race for the Chase, while putting the action under the lights and you have the makings of one of the most electrifying events of the season.

Each time the series hits the famed .533-mile track team owner Jack Roush can take a moment to reflect on his long history at the facility.

“I went to Bristol for the first time (with NASCAR) in 1988,” said Roush. “But I had had a great deal of success there and won on the drag strip at Bristol with the Fastbacks years before that.

“Bristol has always been a place that had two complexes,” added Roush, whose NASCAR teams have made 247 starts at the half-mile oval track. “It had a drag strip up in between the hills and it had an oval track.

“I’ve had the chance to race on both of them and whenever I go to Bristol, it ties my drag racing in with my stock car racing. I have fond memories of the drag racing that preceded the stock car racing and I have fond memories of the stock car racing as well.”

Just as with the drag racing, success on the oval at Bristol would soon follow.

“Mark (Martin) was so enthused when he had a chance to go to Bristol,” recalled Roush. “It was fast and high-banked and he was able to get in the gas and not worry about a lot of finesse and it was one of his favorite places. He had a good feel for it and a great enthusiasm, and eventually we realized the kind of success on the oval track that I had on the drag strip before that.”

Roush Fenway finished second in its first NASCAR Cup start at Bristol in the spring of 1988. Martin and Roush won at Bristol from the pole in the fall of 1993 and opened the floodgate for the organization’s unparalleled amount of success at the track.

All in all Roush Fenway has won at Bristol in all three of NASCAR’s major series for a total of 17 victories (including 10 in the Sprint Cup Series), with the victories spread out over six drivers. In the Cup series Roush Fenway swept the track in 2003 and put a Cup car into victory lane in eight of the last nine seasons.

This weekend Roush and his teams will look to build on their previous success, and plenty is on the line for the organization at it heads to east Tennessee. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who sat on the pole for the Nationwide race at BMS in the spring, will look to hold onto his NNS point lead, while both Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth hope to secure places in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup “playoff.”

In addition, Greg Biffle and David Ragan, a previous NNS Bristol winner, will look for a much needed victory to propel them right back into the thick of the “Chase” Wild-Card race.

Roush Fenway Racing PR

While the numbers vividly show that Furniture Row Racing is enjoying its best season on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, there are still milestones to conquer according to team driver Regan Smith, including a top-10 or better result at a short track venue.

Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team will once again get the opportunity to showcase their short track skills in Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the .533-mile, high-banked oval.

"We've had a couple of opportunities this year to have a solid finish on a short track -- a top-10 or better -- but something beyond our control seemed to happen late in the race," explained Smith. "It's like anything else, we need to forget about past occurrences and focus on the present which is Bristol this weekend. We've been able as a team to post some career firsts this year, and a first top-10 on a short track would be a nice addition to the 2011 resume."

Smith's best opportunity to claim a top-10 at a short track was back in April at the half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, but a broken brake rotor late in the race dashed any hopes of a top-10 result.

"We were on the right pit cycle and had a top-10 in sight at Martinsville," noted Smith. "That race told us that we can be a good short track team."

Smith, who is coming off a 13th-place finish in Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway, has come on strong in 2011 with one win, two top-fives, four top-10s and the sixth-best qualifying average.

"We definitely have the goods and the personnel to be successful at Bristol," said Smith. "This is a race we all enjoy except when you get banged around and the hits start to have an effect on your car's performance. We're coming off a decent finish in Michigan (13th) and would like to keep the momentum going in our Furniture Row Chevrolet."

Smith's first career Sprint Cup start came at the Bristol bullring in April 2007. He started 12th and finished 25th. His best Bristol finish was at the August night race in 2008 when he posted a 14th-place result. In the first race of the current season at Bristol (March 20), he started third and finished 22.

Furniture Row Racing PR

The infield of Richmond International Raceway was quaking with excitement yesterday, as NASCAR driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, Brad Keselowski, joined race fans for Keselowski’s Cookout – an event attended by hundreds of Wonderful Pistachios 400 ticket holders.

Featuring ice cold Miller Lite, BUBBA burgers, tailgate games and an appearance by Keselowski, the opportunity to enjoy the cookout was offered to fans who purchased tickets to the Saturday, September 10 “One Last Race to Make The Chase” at Richmond International Raceway. Through a random drawing, a select number of fans were invited to come out with a guest.

Keselowski entertained the crowd by joining in several games of cornhole, driving hot laps and signing autographs for nearly everyone in attendance. When he returns September 10 for the Wonderful Pistachios 400, fans can expect one of the most exciting events of the season, as the race will determine the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“I think you’re looking at the last wild card race here at Richmond as the ultimate Race to The Chase race because a lot of teams have one win,” said Keselowski, who currently holds the first wild card spot. “And if any of them can break through and get that second one, it nearly clinches their spot. So there’s a lot of guys that can race their way in at Richmond.”